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Massive Solar Storm to Trigger Northern Lights Across North America

Massive Solar Storm to Trigger Northern Lights Across North America
Massive Solar Storm to Trigger Northern Lights Across North America

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Here’s where they’ll be visible.

Nightsky Invite

A massive solar storm is blasting the Earth’s atmosphere with charged particles, resulting in spectacular auroras that will be visible across the United States this weekend.

The storm is expected to hit our planet on Friday night, growing to a “severe” Category G4 geomagnetic on Saturday night, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. That’s one level short of the strongest storms on its space weather scale and the first predicted G4 storm since 2005, as the Washington Post reports. The auroras are expected to be visible as far south as Alabama.

We highly recommend finding a dark location away from too much light pollution and cloud cover to watch the spectacle unfold. A handy map provided by the NOAA shows where you’ll be able to see the show.

Stormy Suniels

During a solar storm, which can either be triggered by solar flares, coronal mass ejections or other solar activity, huge amounts of plasma are blasted across outer space. Some of these electrically charged particles collide with our planet’s magnetosphere, becoming trapped.

Auroras, also known as northern lights, are the result of these particles colliding with the oxygen in the Earth’s atmosphere, giving off rich hues of red and green. Collisions involving atmospheric nitrogen result in glows of blue and purple.

The cosmic drama is due to the Sun having now entered the most active stage of its 11-year cycle, a period during which it’s expected to trigger many more storms through the end of the year.

“It is a rather volatile situation on the sun right now that we’re monitoring very closely,” Bill Murtagh, program coordinator at NOAA’s Space Weather Prediction Center, told WaPo. “We’re going to get somewhat of a prolonged period of geomagnetic storming.”

More on auroras: Scientists Catch Mars Glowing Green

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